Connect Humanity published the State of Digital Inequity: Civil Society Perspectives on Barriers to Progress in our Digitizing World, a global look at barriers that prevent people from fully participating in the world that most of us take for granted. I always love a report like this but I was wondering if there was a place for it in blog given the global scope and well, it’s kind of librarian-nerdy. Then I went to the Capitol where Senator Kunesch asked a good question about digital equity with communities of color. (The quick answer is that Minnesota is working on a digital equity plan – and you can help!) And last week several Representatives asked questions that indicated they were so far away from folks who are unserved that they didn’t know what to ask.
And then I saw the banner at the right and I remembered that most of the world takes technology for granted. It’s a tool that we have and use because we have broadband, a device (or two) and the skills to use it. Then there’s another part of the world who doesn’t have access and because of it, they can’t even speak up about the need. They can’t send emails or TikToks to get the attention they need. To close the gap, we have to remember it and understand it. The report is full of good info and statistics but here are their key findings:
- Infrastructure & Access: Inadequate or unavailable internet access affects everyone, but the people CSOs serve are more likely to be impacted by a lack of connectivity due to poor infrastructure and issues with their internet providers.
- Policy: While CSOs view access to both information and the internet as basic rights, many CSOs feel their governments do not have policies that support this.
- Content: When it comes to the resources that motivate people to use the internet, email and chat services are by far the most important to CSOs and the people they serve. It is important that these services are available in local languages, which, the survey shows, they mostly are.
- Affordability: The high cost of both devices and internet access remains a significant barrier for both CSOs and the people they serve and prevents them from participating meaning-fully in our digital world.
- Digital Skills: Though CSOs agree that digital skills are important, a lack of training on how to use the internet and digital devices is a major issue for both CSOs and the people they serve. Few feel their employees are well trained on the devices and software they use